6 tips for a better DAW workflow.

To make sure that everything runs smoothly in the production of a song, one thing is needed: a good organization!

Anyone who prepares his projects properly and works systematically in his productions can avoid many “DAW workflow killers”. Instead of focusing on finding projects and samples, or messing with routing issues, you can focus more on the essentials.

Howdy SEA Fans, welcome to another Tip Tuesday blog post, a weekly blog post published on every Tuesday wherein we share tips/information about subjects related to sound engineering/music production. Last week we have published an article with information related to preparing a tech rider/stage rider which live sound reinforcement professionals found useful.

Today we are sharing tips which will help you to increase your productivity while having a better DAW workflow.

1. Create own templates
Many DAWs are already equipped with plenty of template projects. But in very few cases fits a template of the DAW manufacturer’s own way of working. Self-created templates can make your life easier and speed up the workflow. You are welcome to compose with your favorite tone generators or work with third-party effect plug-ins right at the beginning. Also, corresponding effect channels for reverb, delay, chorus etc as well as subgroups with appropriate routing for the mixdown “in the box” or even with outboard devices do not have to be created each time anew.

Create custom projects that fit your DAW workflow and save them as a template.

This will help you to work faster because after opening a new project from a template, you are easily equipped with an individual setup. So you do not have to deal with routings at the most important moment (when creativity just struck), but you can do your thing in peace. As new DAW tools, effects, or tone generators that you like to use become available over time, you can easily update the template.

Choose different templates for different scenarios (composition, recording, mixdown, mastering, …).

Not every song is like the other.

Nevertheless, one uses in certain steps like the “tried-and-true” tools. Analyze your projects so far and consider which DAW tools and plug-ins in the template can help you get a better workflow. So do not be afraid of standardized processes – the template only serves as a starting point to access the essential tools immediately. Spontaneous ideas and experiments are, of course, still feasible.

2. Save projects in multiple versions
In principle, does not work in a single project, because otherwise, you could overwrite precious ideas.

At least the production steps should be present in individual projects: Song – Recording Song – Editing Song – Mixdown Song – Mastering. Ideally, you also save the production steps in several versions.

3. Use shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts of the DAW, also called Shortcuts or Key Commands, help you to operate your projects almost blind.

In addition to commands for navigation, the shortcuts also allow very special features of the DAW directly on the keyboard. Although it may sometimes be easier to click a region with the mouse, open a context menu, and select the function, using a keyboard shortcut is much faster, especially as you no longer have to navigate through slightly hidden submenus.

In most DAWs it is possible to create your own shortcuts or override the ones specified by the manufacturer. This may seem convenient at first, but makes it difficult for you to easily work on DAWs from other studios. In addition, there are keyboards and keyboard skins with which the most important commands are immediately visible. However, if you insist on your own shortcuts, you can export them and save them on a USB stick. If you work in another studio, you just have to import your own shortcuts and feel “at home”.

4.Name and group tracks
From the beginning, it helps when it takes less than second to find the project you want to work on, so it’s important to organize your projects.

Neatly named tracks should be on the compulsory program of each project.

You should name each track before recording because this is the only way to ensure that the regions of the recording are not called “Audio 18”. Incidentally, DAWs tend to shorten the tracks in the Mixer window for reasons of lack of space. Therefore, it is best to name it with its own abbreviations: For example, use an abbreviation like “BD” instead of “Bassdrum”.

Anyone who has worked on all drum tracks at the same time will surely have created a subgroup. This way you can edit the drums as sum with effects in the mixdown and at the same time have a better overview in the mixer window. In order to ensure a better overview in the arrangement window as well, it is worthwhile to group the tracks in color. And those who have developed a color coding for themselves, which he uses regularly, can of course also save them back into the template.

Renaming files is a fun way personalize your music-creating experience and it can help a lot with being able to remember what each file sounds like. It is also recommended to add a prefix to each file’s name, to help with quick organization and identification. The prefix will help because it sorts sounds together in the list since they appear in alphabetical order.

5.Organize Sounds by their Sound
If you don’t love having to open up all your plugins one-by-one to search for a certain sound, wasting creative energy trying to remember which plugins have that good sound, there is an alternative. Wouldn’t it be better if you had your favorite sounds organized by instrument type? Even the most hardcore do-it-yourself sound designers will have their favorite sounds saved as good starting points for further manipulation.

6. Sort samples and create your own patches
Samples are being used in more and more music styles today, so it’s all the more important for the workflow to be able to access it quickly.

Over time, a whole folder landscape collects on samples of different manufacturers. If you are looking for the right “filter sweep sample” at the right moment, in the worst case you will first have to search through all manufacturer folders – this can take a long time. Especially since there are also samples that you may never use because they simply do not like or do not fit your own style.

It’s a great idea to save the patches for further use and tweaking in other songs so that you continually benefit from your previous work, rather than having to start from the ground up for every sound in every track.

If you prefer to program the samples via MIDI or play them live with a MIDI controller, you import your favorite samples into the sampler of the DAW. Here you can do the same and create a separate patch for each category. If you have put together a drum group of samples in a previous project, which harmonize well with each other, it saves as a drum kit in the DAW sampler.

If your sampler has a multi-output, you can route the samples to your own channels of the DAW and thus have the opportunity to mix them in the DAW mixer.

Hope you have found the tips useful and do share your perspective about this article in the comment box below and Happy Sound Engineering !!!

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